Victor Glemaud wants to be the next big American fashion brand – WWD

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Victor Glemaud has had many lives in fashion – as assistant to Patrick Robinson, publicist at KCD and studio manager at Paco Rabanne.

Now, in the sixth year of designing his eponymous knitwear collection, and on the heels of a successful collaboration with Target, he’s looking to hit a new target – high-profile retail appeal.

American fashion has a deep heritage of knitwear, from Coles of California to Rudi Gernreich, Geoffrey Beene to Halston. “It’s this story of celebrating the body, now we celebrate all sizes,” quips Glemaud.

He was well ahead of the current pandemic-fueled knitwear rush, which saw designer Khaite Conley Averett show off his own collection of Judy Turner knitwear on Wednesday at Michael’s restaurant, and industry vet Gilles Mendel pivot to launch J. Mendel knitwear this week as just two examples.

“It was an outlier category when we started with four sweaters…There was a big education and learning curve of retailing to customers. It took them about two years to realize that they could buy and support the brand all year round. Of course, there have always been sweaters on the catwalks, but what we have done since the beginning is to make the knit very famous and considered, from the cutouts to the notches , making it look like something you can wear all year round.

Over the years, Glemaud has built her business through Saks Fifth Avenue, Revolve, and FWRD, among others, with fans including Meghan Markle, Issa Rae, and Selena Gomez.

In 2022, it aims for expansion.

At his parade on Saturday, where he was supported by an industry-wide and industry-adjacent fan club, ranging from past and present Vogue editors to socialite Marjorie Gubelmann and her former boss Robinson , it featured cut and sewn jersey pieces, including knits. cut-out dresses and fitted separates are priced at $450-$550.

“Victor had such an incredible response to working with Target that we thought about not just how to bring the prices down, but how to get that wow factor under $1,000,” said chief operating officer Lisa Metcalfe, who worked to reduce collection prices by 25 percent.

“What it did in terms of our industry is people became aware of the brand in a different way,” Glemaud said. “Lisa and I had many conversations about opportunities and when Target came out it was proof of concept, people saw the response on social media and in their own families. It exceeded my expectations,” said he said, recalling how the morning of the capsule collection’s release, he arrived early at the Target store in Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn to find that there were already people in line.

“We took pictures and chatted, and it showed me the scope of the brand aesthetic. What I’ve always loved about fashion is really dressing people up,” he said. he declares.

Metcalfe joined the company in March 2018, with experience developing brands such as Pam & Gela. And in 2019, Glemaud experienced 200% growth. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, sales were down 50%, but now in 2022 the brand is back to 2019 numbers, she said, declining to share sales numbers.

Many best practices adopted by the industry now, Glemaud has been practicing them organically since the beginning of his company, including minimizing waste by shipping directly from factories, flat packaging and designing for larger sizes.

“Our Curve category, we sold out from 2017 when Ashley Graham wore our dress to the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund event,” Glemaud said. “We tried to sell it to partners and some get it and some don’t. But we’re selling it quite well on our website, and we’ve partnered with Farfetch and it’s selling quite well internationally. I’m like, ‘oh, Malaysia and Switzerland.’ It’s great to see this resonating globally.

In 2022, it has several accessory collaborations coming out, as well as an interiors partnership. He dreams of making swimwear, menswear and maybe partnering with Loro Piana.

“Creatively, I feel confident as a designer and I feel confident as a businessman,” he said.

In 2020, Glemaud is launching the In the Blk network to share its knowledge and experience. “In our industry, everyone feels really siled. I never felt that because my first boss was Patrick Robinson, but a lot of people feel left out, and I’ve been open about my journey and my journey in fashion, which has had ups and downs, like all careers. But now that I’m in my early 40s, I can look back and understand, it’s just about time and be more comfortable and check my ego and celebrate successes and failures and move on.

In Metcalfe, he found the right partner to do so.

“I’ve been doing this for 36 years, and I’ve seen a lot of designers, from those who work for Calvin Klein, to Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor, and what I appreciate about Victor, c is that he’s in there as a business, I respect that, and that’s unique, especially for a small brand that generally wants to be on such and such a site, even if we don’t make money. Victor’s first question is if we’re going to make money and if not he says let’s move on.We’re both brutally honest and respectful.

Glemaud and Metcalfe are also aligned in their values. “Most of our business is wholesale and stores like Victor. It’s not just about presenting it in February and June, Victor is presented all year round and people respect what our brand is and how long Victor has been working on it,” she said.

“I knew I had this idea that I also needed someone to help me develop it,” Glemaud said, recalling how he did everything from packaging to selling. “She allows me to be as involved as I want and most of the time I’m not involved,” he said.

Which leaves him more time to devote to In The Blk.

“I’ve never seen a place like this in fashion, no matter your race, where people share what’s happening in Milan, Istanbul and Lagos,” Glemaud said.

For the second season, In the Blk partnered with IMG for a fashion week showcase for emerging designers, but Glemaud said finding other corporate sponsors had been difficult.

“People want to get involved but it’s quite performative, they have predetermined ways of getting involved, and we’re like no, it’s not about Juneteenth and it’s not about three months,” did he declare. “But I take the hits and I say no and I’m a big advocate for designers. It’s a lot to say no.

“Victor with his network that he makes available and the confidence he brings to young companies to say no is invaluable. With everything that’s happened in 2020 and 2021, the belated focus on color designers, even when I’m mentoring designers, it’s hard to realize that not all opportunities are opportunities,” said Metcalfe.

“There’s a retailer that I won’t quote who said we were doing a pop-up for black designers. And not being a person of color, I said you need to read this room quickly, because this what you are presenting is truly offensive,” the exec said. “It’s a heavy load to work with a big retailer and you need to know that they believe in you and have your back.

“Endeavor and UPS sponsored the show, and our Paris Fashion Week videos were sponsored by Facebook and Instagram. In the Blk is a nonprofit, so we need partners, but they need to be aligned and supporting members, talent, culture and people. We need a long-term pop-up,” the designer said.

Indeed, both agree that they are not interested in a niche brand.

Glemaud said, “I want to be the American designer of today and tomorrow, that’s what we’re building.”

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